Their love story, as told by Jill: “My dad was asked to speak at a youth retreat in New York. I didn’t want to go and wasn’t sure that I’d be able to since I was in school and it was one of my top priorities. I would be starting my last semester a few days after I got home and I wanted to focus on it. I decided to go and was excited about seeing some of my friends again. On Sunday morning, we walked into church. I saw one of the guys I’d been with on a missions trip to Africa with, standing in the back of church, but didn’t think much of it. What I didn’t see was that his cousin Josh was with him. When I walked in, Lee elbowed Josh and looked at me and said that he should check me out. Josh told him “no thanks” and didn’t think much of it. I never saw him that day. I met Josh officially the next day when I sat down in my small group study time. A guy suggested that we all introduce ourselves and said that he was Josh Kauffman. I didn’t think about him that much but I did notice (and loved) that he wasn’t afraid to speak out in the study time. I chatted with him the next day after our study group time, but didn’t think much of it until later that night one of my friends asked me if I thought that Josh liked me. I was like, “who’s Josh?” but then remembered that I had talked with him for a while that day. I told her that I didn’t think so, but that we had some things in common and that I thought he was just being friendly. He was impressed with me and my eagerness to participate in the study group, but he wasn’t looking for a girlfriend, so he almost dismissed it as a distraction. On Tuesday, my name just kept coming to his mind and he kept dismissing it. Finally after that didn’t work, he told God that if he was trying to tell him something, he’d listen and try to get to know me better. So from Wednesday and on after that, I began to notice that he was being more intentional about talking with me and getting to know me and telling me about his life, but in a very honest and upright way. I also noticed that he talked to Daddy a lot and thought that was kind of cool. He also told his parents that he had met a really nice girl, but that he was being prayerful about getting to know me. By Thursday or Friday, my friend Becca told me that she was sure he was interested because he was never like that around girls he didn’t know… and I was pretty sure myself that he was at least interested. I talked to Daddy about him on Friday and asked him what he thought about Josh and he had a lot of good to say about him, but said that we had just met, so I should relate to him as a sister and to be genuine. Then he added this… I had never heard this from my daddy before. He said, “Jill, I like him and he might be the guy for you. If he is, you need to give him a little feedback and let him know that you are. Encourage him, but do it without being flirty. If momma had never clued me in on the fact that she was interested, you might not even be here, so be open, but cautious.” I was kinda shocked, but decided that he might have a point! We started trading a few texts over the next week. He said that me texting him was just what he needed. He said that he wouldn’t have asked unless he knew that there was a “connection” of some sorts on my end, and that clued him in to my interest. But at this point, we were both being very prayerful and cautious. He went off to Mexico and I didn’t hear from him much after that.
In May, Josh called and asked about starting a relationship with me. I was excited. Daddy was in touch with Mike (Josh’s dad) for a few months and they were able to talk about a lot of stuff. Daddy made arrangements to have a phone call with Josh at the end of May and the conversation went well and they made plans to talk again. Momma went with Daddy during this phone call. She didn’t know Josh, but I had talked to her about him so I think that she knew that I did like him and that he was a great guy. After talking with him, Momma asked him if he wanted to call me the next day. He said, “Absolutely!” They came home and told me that I could be expecting a phone call the next day, but that I should text him right then. So I did! It was exciting and great to know that we were starting out on this journey. I didn’t know what to do with myself… I just wandered around the yard with my phone in my hand going from place to place. a couple of my brothers laughed at me and my sisters said I was cute! I told my younger siblings that evening and they were so surprised and happy. We talked the next day and it was amazing! Being able to hear each other’s excited voices and talking was amazing. We realized how much God had brought us through and where He was taking us and we were excited to be on this new journey together as a couple. The whole relationship was kind of surreal until he came two weeks later. We were so excited to see each other again, but a little nervous at the same time. But our fears were quickly put to rest as we sat and talked, prayed together and shared hearts. We were in this together, with God and are ready to face the world! Our first date was at a lovely restaurant in Marshall. We had dinner and talked for a long time and then we headed to the center of town to meet up with my family for dessert. We had fun together and the entire weekend was amazing. We had a lot more amazing weekends after that. A few weeks after we started dating, I went to New York to meet his family and I fell in love with them. They were absolutely wonderful and I felt like I fit right in with them. It was great.
Fast forward to November… Josh and I were in love and convinced that God was leading us to pursue marriage. We knew that God had led us together and we didn’t want to live the rest of our lives without each other. He had another phone conversation with my parents asking them for permission to marry me, which they gave. Josh came to see me and told me that we were going to go out together, but said that it was a surprise. I didn’t think too much about it, but had a sneaking suspicion that he might propose. He took me to the restaurant where we had our first date. After dinner, we walked to the fountain at the center of town. It was all lit up with beautiful changing colors and as I was admiring them, Josh turned and took my hands, got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife and to spend the rest of my life with him. It was so incredible. I said “Yes!” as he slipped a beautiful ring on my finger. I was going to be his wife and was ready for the next step. We were getting married!